An offseason coaching change didn’t necessarily signal a start-from-scratch mentality for the Saugus boys basketball team.
Bill Bedgood departed after three seasons and took over Valencia’s boys basketball program.
Waiting in the wings, though, was Alfredo Manzano, a Saugus alum who spent last year as a varsity assistant and the previous two seasons as the program’s JV coach.
“I’ve been close with all these kids at some point,” Manzano said. “Of course, when you have a coaching change, there are some things that are going to change. But I’ve never worried about them buying in because I’m preaching the same message.”
Manzano served as the team’s defensive coordinator last season. For a team that lacks size, defense is going to be the key to the Centurions reaching the postseason in back-to-back years for the first time since 2012-13.
“We talk about being blue collar and I think that really shows up with our hustle on the defensive side of the ball,” Manzano said. “I have a head up on establishing the defensive culture but we’re running some new things on offense. That’s still a work in progress.
Saugus returns just one starter from last year’s team: senior Luke Bodeau, who’s scored 20-plus points in all but one of the team’s first five games of the year. Also returning from the varsity roster are sophomore Adrian McIntyre and senior Dylan Spring. Both played sparingly last season.
McIntyre has already shown the ability to score in volume, dropping 46 points in the team’s season-opening win over Heritage Christian.
“For him, it’s going to be about finding consistency on both sides of the ball,” Manzano said. “It’s great to have a player who can score like that, though, who’s only a sophomore and still developing.”
With McIntyre and Bodeau pacing Saugus’ offense thus far, Manzano said the team is still searching for a “third scorer” to provide points in bulk.
It could be Spring, or Tyler Mehl or Heritage Christian sophomore transfer Stephen Tampus, who Manzano is hoping can provide stability at point guard.
“There was a little bit of an unknown with Stephen,” Manzano said. “We played Heritage Christian last year and I remember him getting spot minutes. What he’s able to do for us at point guard is going to be critical.”
Sophomore Cameron Nale gives Saugus some height at 6-foot-7. Manzano expects him to come off the bench while he’s still early in his development.
Nale makes up one of the team’s five sophomores. Manzano’s paired his inexperienced squad with some of the area’s tougher opponents, which has resulted in a 2-3 start. At the Warrior Classic, they played Bishop Alemany, Calabasas, Viewpoint and Valley Torah – picking up wins against Valley Torah and Viewpoint.
Calabasas and Valley Torah were ranked inside the top 16 of their respective divisions in the first Southern Section boys basketball poll of the season, released Monday.
“We wanted them to get hit with a bit of adversity,” Manzano said. “It’s really helped them gel as a unit. This is the closest team I’ve been around in my four years at Saugus.”
The Centurions were third-place finishers in the Foothill League last season, losing to Dos Pueblos in the second round of the Division 2A tournament.